southern italy food cookbook review mamma agata

If there is one thing expats in southern Italy can agree on, it’s that we have the. best. food. in the country. Ok, ok, expats in other parts of Italy … back off! Your food rocks, too. But I have that whole southern pride thing going on and nothing makes me prouder than reviewing a cookbook that epitomizes southern Italian cooking-and Mamma Agata: Simple and Genuine does just that.

Oh yes, discerning readers, you’ve heard of Mamma Agata before. Last year my good friend Laura of Ciao Amalfi! reviewed Mamma Agata: Simple and Genuine here on My Bella Vita and she, too, loved the book.

Rather than rehash everything Laura said about how much fun the cookbook is to read, how simple and genuine the recipes are, how much you’ll truly like the author, Chiara and her family, I’m gonna tell you how this cookbook got me over a culinary hump.

You see, one of the first southern Italian dishes I fell in love with was Parmigiana di Melanzane, or eggplant parmesan. My father-in-law makes a great version and I often ask him to make it when friends or family come to visit. But I just couldn’t do it myself.

Oh, I tried.

And I tried.

And I tried some more.

But my parmigiana was always too soggy or too oily or too tasteless.

Until now.

I knew it was fate when I received my review copy of Mamma Agata’s cookbook and flipped it open to the parmigiana recipe. It spans three pages in the cookbook, making it one of the most time-consuming, if not most difficult, recipes in the book. But I was up for the challenge.

I read the recipe from top to bottom … a couple of times … and prepped for the big occasion. About half-way through my husband came in to offer a hand.

“Oh no, you don’t!” I told him.

“This is my dish … all mine. And I want all of the credit for it.”

And Mamma Agata did I deserve some credit!

For the first time in almost a decade of trying to perfect a parmigiana, my dish held tightly together. The layers were distinct and precise. The flavors harmonized and the colors sang.

Ok-maybe that’s a bit dramatic. But suffice it to say, that parmigiana was g-o-o-d.

So good, in fact, that we had it again the next day. I heated mine first … my husband ate it straight from the fridge.

So what are you waiting for? Stop droolin’ over my parmigiana and go make your own. You can get your copy of Mamma Agata: Simple and Genuine here. If you make some of the dishes, please come back and tell me. I’d love to celebrate your culinary successes with you, as well.

Want a private lesson on southern Italian cooking from Mamma Agata? Click here to see how I can incorporate that into your southern Italy itinerary.

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